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Us 44, America 29, United States 13, Cap 11, U.s. 9, United States Senate 6, Utah 6, Mr. Lee 6, Obama 5, Washington 4, Lee 4, Reid 4, Oklahoma 4, Mr. Reid 3, Mr. Inhofe 3, Mr. Inouye 3, Bruce Sundlin 3, Georgia 3, United 3, Mr. Udall 2,
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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    July 21, 2011
    5:00 - 8:00pm EDT  

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issue. this is a moral issue of whether this generation, my generation and people that are even younger than me but spending a lot of money, ought to live high on the hog and leave it to young people to pick up the bill without a plan to put our fiscal situation on a better path, the next generations will have lower quality of life than one we've experienced. we can't let that happen. we must take action to correct our course. i urge my colleagues to support the cut, cap and balance plan. i yield the floor. mr. inouye: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii is recognized. mr. inouye: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the time from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the motion to proceed to h.r 2560 be equally divided between the majority leader and the
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republican leader. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. inouye: madam president? i rise today in opposition to the cut, cap and balance act of 2011. rather than taking a balanced approach that requires shared sacrifice, house republicans have passed legislation that would gut essential services for average americans, asking nothing of the wealthy and the privileged. such a misguided approach would cost countless american jobs while doing nothing to solve america's long-term deficit challenges. madam president, in my opinion, this bill, the cut, cap and balance act, fails to measure up as a serious proposal to address the structural deficit that our nation faces. it is misguided and assumes that
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our nation will pay no price if we fail to invest in our future. and these are some of the assumptions of this measure. highways will not buckle, they say. pipes will not rust. bridges will not collapse. and there's no need to invest in the next generation of innovators to keep america's competitive advantage. this bill, mr. president would gut the very funding we need to revitalize our economy and invest in the future. cut, cap and balance would render congress essentially powerless to address revenues, thereby pushing america further down the road to economic inequality by ensuring that the wealthy do not have to share any sacrifice. and whatever might be said about
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this legislation, to call it balanced is a cruel irony. in fact, all of the sacrifices demanded of the poor and the working families. this measure forces congress to slash programs that average americans rely on for education, housing assistance, food safety, safer air control, and clean water. mr. president, we have an aging population which means that increasing costs for social security and medicare are reality that must be dealt with. the baby boomers, for example, are retiring now which increases the need for social security and medicare. and while those programs are not subject to sequester, how will
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we meet the high cost and at the same time bring down overall spending to 18% of gross domestic product, a level that has not been achieved since the 1960's? my colleagues should not kid themselves. mandating a balanced budget by 2020 while taking revenues off the table will require draconian cuts to social security and medicare. mr. president, as chairman of the appropriations committee, i take particular note of the impact cut, cap and balance would have on non-defense discretionary spending. a ten-year freeze on domestic spending that does not adjust for inflation would have a devastating effect and impact on the ability of all non-defense departments and agencies to
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carry out their missions. my colleagues should know that over ten years, such a cap would amount to a 33% cut in real dollars. such a level of cuts would make it impossible for the united states to compete on a global scale. our infrastructure, our education system, our technolo technology, everything we need to remain a great nation will be drastically underfunded or simply not funded at all. mr. president, i hope we all understand that we are not talking about nice to have things. we are talking about investments that are necessary to maintain the quality of life for the middle class. education is not optional. roads and sewers, clean air and clean water are not optional.
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meeting the basic nutritional needs of our poorest children should not be optional. this great nation, mr. president, was built on such investments made in the best interests of the american peop people, all the people, mr. president, not just the wealthiest .1%. now, i would like to take a brief moment to provide a few specifics about the impact of this act. while it is not possible to predict specific impacts ten years down the road, it is certainly possible to give examples of what the american people would experience in the near term as a result of this deeply flawed bill. in fiscal year 2012, head start funding would decrease by more than $900 million, eliminating comprehensive early childhood
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services for over 130,000 low-income children and their families, resulting in the termination of 30,000 teachers, teacher assistants, and related staff. the combined cost of mandatory programs such as food stamps, school lunch program coupled with domestic spending reductions contained in this bill would be a double blow to the nation's most vulnerable populations. with these cuts, there would be 13 million fewer meals served to our seniors who can't afford it. so let me be blunt. if this bill is enacted, children and seniors in this great nation will go hungry in far larger numbers than today.
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mr. president, we all recognize that reducing waste, fraud and abuse are essential components of getting our fiscal house in order. for example, every billion dollars we save is a billion dollars we can use to reduce the deficit or better invest in america's future. and yet this bill would reduce funding for the internal revenue service by some $1.8 billion below the president's request for fiscal year 2012, which would cripple its effort to fund and find and eliminate waste and abuse. the i.r.s. could be forced to furlough between 4,100 and 5,000 employees and most of them enforcement agents.
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furthermore, a cut to i.r.s. funding would increase the deficit by about $4 billion a year beginning in 2013 because, mr. president, keep in mind that every dollar investment in law enforcement resources brings in $5 in tax revenues. those are facts established over the years. finally, mr. president, i would note that a cap on the federal budget means that we are unable to make smart choices between our future investments. as an example, the bureau of prisons' inmate population is expected to grow roughly 250,000 federal inmates by 2018, an increase of more than 31,000 prisoners or 15% over the next eight years. a growing inmate population coupled with a spending cap for
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department of justice activities will mean further severe cuts to other functions of the department of justice. federal, state and local public safety efforts would be cut in order to pay the required costs of housing prisoners. mr. president, yesterday, as we recall, 97 senators voted in favor of the military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill. this shows that the senate is capable of producing and passing fiscally responsible appropriation bills that meets the nation's needs and that are strong -- and that have strong and bipartisan support. the real answer to our fiscal crisis has not changed since before the debate began. we must cut spending in a responsible fashion. we must reform entitlement
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programs to make certain that they survive for future generations. and we must reform our tax code to allow for sufficient revenues to meet the needs of an aging population and the challenges of a global economy. mr. president, cut, cap and balance does none of these things and so i urge my colleagues respectfully to reject this misguided measure. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, to follow the distinguished addition while the distinguished chairman of the appropriations committee was talking i had a visit with some of the pages here to ask them did they realize who was speaking and they all knew who he was. they knew that he was a heroic man, having the medal of honor. they knew he had been elected to the senate nine different times,
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in addition to serving in the house of representatives. so it's great that our pages are so versed on what happens around here. we depend on them very, very much. and i'm grateful that they understand what a great man the chairman of the appropriations committee is. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to consideration of calendar number 76, a bill to extend the term of the incumbent director of the f.b.i., that the committee' substitute amendment be considered, this a coburn amendment which is at the desk be agreed to, the committee substitute amendment as amended be agreed to, it is bill be read a third time and the senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill as amended. the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, that any statements be placed in the record as if read. first, if robert mueller iii is confirmed to be director of the federal bureau of investigations, that the nomination be placed on the
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calendar, that at a time to be determined by the republican leader in consult -- by the democratic leader in consultation with the republican leader, that there be two hours of debate divided in the usual form, that upon the use or yielding back of the time, with no intervening action or debate, with no intervening action, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, and that no further actions in order to the nomination, any statements relating to the nomination be placed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then immediately resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? hearing no objection, it is so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, i want to extend my appreciation to senators leahy and grassley for working together to get this matter done. he's done a wonderful job for ten years and the country feels they need him for two more years and he's agreed to take that and i appreciate that very much.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, the foregoing actions as -- with respect to the bill are dplishe accomplish. the clerk will read the bill for the third time. the clerk: calendar number 76, s. 1103, a bill to extend the term of the incumbent director of the federal bureau of investigationinvestigation. the presiding officer: the question is on the passage of the bill, as amended. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill, as amended, is passed.
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mr. kyl: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: thank you, mr. president. i want to speak on behalf of the resolution before us, this so-called cut, cap and balance resolution, and explain briefly why it represents a better approach to resolving the financial crisis that our country is faced with than the alternative which seems to be myopiccally focused on raising taxes. as if our problem in this country were taxes. our problem is spending, and that's why the reference to cutting spending, capping future spending and ensuring that we never go back to our errant ways by passing a balanced budget amendment to the constitution which would forever prevent us
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from getting into the same position we are now where we have to keep coming back to increase the nation's debt ceiling. that's why the emphasis on spending. now, some of our friends on the other side of the aisle and certainly the president of the united states says i will not agree to anything unless you raise taxes. why are republicans so opposed to the president's approach? why are we focused on reducing spending rather than raising taxes? why is it important? first of all, because spending is the problem, not taxes. spending in this country under president obama has gone from the historic level of about 20% of our gross domestic product to now 25% in just three short years. that's a historic growth in spending. we have never been this high, and under the obama budgets as far as the eye can see, we'll be above the historic levels, never
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below 23% of the gross domestic product, and as far as i can see, very close to that 25%. spending is the problem. now, some will say well, the government has collected less income taxes in the last couple of years. that's true, but it isn't because tax rates have changed. we have had the same tax rates for the last decade. they have been constant. the only reason there is less revenue coming into the treasury right now, the so-called tax take of the government is because the economy is in the tank, people are unemployed, they are not working, they are not making this much money, businesses are not making as much money so they are not paying as much in taxes. so what's the answer? to raise tax rates and try to squeeze more blood out of this turnip, try to get more out of a sick economy? no. the answer, of course, is to try to get the economy well again so people are working, they do make more money, businesses make money, they all pay more in taxes. and then we'll be back at the
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historic levels of tax take by the federal government and presumably folks who say, well, taxes are the problem will then be satisfied. but how do you grow the economy? how do you get it well? we know one thing for sure not to do, and that's impose taxes on an already weak economy. the president himself last december when we reached agreement between the congress and the president on extending all of the current tax rates made that exact point. he said to raise taxes at this time when the economy is weak would be the worst thing for economic growth and job creation. he was right. he was right then. if anything, our economy is in worse shape now. now we're at 9.2% of unemployment. we continue to stagnate. if you have got a sick economy, the last thing you want to do is impose more taxes on that economy. one of our colleagues here in
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the senate, our colleague from the state in which i was born, the cornhusker state of nebraska, ben nelson, said and i quote -- "raising taxes at a time when our economy remains fragile takes us in the wrong direction. if we start with plans to raise taxes, pretty soon spending cuts will fall by the wayside." and i wouldn't agree with him more. i think there is some bipartisan consensus, although certainly i recognize many democrats would like to raise taxes, but i think economists and most americans appreciate that when the problem is spending, when spending has gone up so dramatically, the answer is to reduce the spending, get it back down at a minimum to where it was and not raise taxes. the second reason that we are focused on the spending side and why we therefore support the cutting of spending, the capping of that spending and making sure that we have the constraint of a constitutional amendment to restrain us from our impulses in the future is because it never
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fails that tax hikes always hit more than the people you're aiming at. it doesn't just hit the millionaires and billionaires. it hits a lot of other people. when the alternative minimum tax was created, the idea was to make sure that -- and i could be a little wrong on the number, mr. president -- i think it was 125 millionaires couldn't use deductions and credits to get out of paying their taxes. we were going to create an alternative minimum tax. they would have to pay some tax even if they had lots of credits and deductions that they could take. well, today -- i know two years ago it was going to hit 23 million americans. i think this year it's something like 32 million. again, i would be a little bit wrong on the number, but let's just say between 20 million and 30 million people. so we start out with about 125 million, and that tax hits well over 20 and i think over 30 million households a year. why wouldn't we want to do something about that? we do every year.
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we pass what we call a patch so that it doesn't affect those people because we never intended to affect them in the first place. we aimed at the millionaires and we hit over 20 million other americans. and the same thing would happen here. how many millionaires and billionaires are there? say households that report income taxes of above above $1 million. well, the answer is 319,000. in the whole united states, 319,000. how many people would actually pay the increased tax in the upper two brackets where these people are located? well, that number turns out to be 3.6 million people right now. what will it be in 20 years? we will be probably up into the 20 million and 30 million category again. so the point is you aim at 300,000 people and you end up hitting ten times that many people. 3.6 million people. that's how many people there are in the top two brackets that the
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president's proposals would hit. there's another unintended consequence. it doesn't just hit the millionaires and billionaires. it hits small business owners. small businesses create two-thirds of all of the jobs coming out of an economic downturn like we have had out of a recession, and small businesses usually -- at least 50% of the small business income, let's put it that way, is reported in these top two income tax brackets. you have an individual person, he's not a corporation so he reports his income taxes in one of the two top income tax brackets. now, what happens when you raise the tax on those 50% of the folks, the small business folks? are they more likely to hire or are they more likely to just sit on their hands? obviously, the answer is they're not going to hire more people. earlier this week, i quoted from several small business folks who, of course, said precisely that. experts all agree on this. when you raise taxes on the top
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two rates, you hit a lot of small businesses, and one of the taxes that the president proposed raising, as a matter of fact, his own small business administration did a study and reported that that tax -- and i'm quoting now -- could ultimately force many small businesses to close, ultimately force many small businesses to close. so you aim at the millionaire and the billionaire and you end up hitting small businesses. by the way, since this small business administration report has been in the news, i have noticed the administration's not talking about this particular tax any more. well, that's fine but the reality is that the others that they're talking about would also hit small business and force many of them to close. who else gets hit by this tax on the millionaires and billionaires? we have some experience.
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back in 1990, we thought we would impose a luxury tax on the millionaires and billionaires. we were going to tax things like yachts and jewelry and luxury items and so on. well, that lasted a little less than three years when all the people that made the boats, made the yachts marched on washington and said hey, you just put us out of business, and we repealed that tax. i think it was over 9,000 people were put out of business. and it's interesting that same proposition translates to today. what was one of the provisions in the stimulus bill? now, the stimulus bill was opposed by all but i think two republicans. all the democrats supported it. well, it was the tax treatment for corporate jets. republicans didn't support this special tax treatment for corporate jets, but the president did. it was in his stimulus bill. because it was thought that this would help to create or save jobs. accelerated depreciation, which is the tax treatment here, was
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beneficial to the people who make these airplanes, more beneficial from a tax standpoint, and it might well be that jobs were either created or saved as a result of that. but that tax provision that was so important to creating or saving jobs when the surplus bill was passed now all of a sudden is something that's evil because presumably people that fly in business jets are to be attacked, to be demagogued. and you have heard the president of the united states talk about this. he talks about the special tax loophole for corporate jets. well, it's his tax loophole and he put it in there bought he thought -- because he thought it would create or save jobs. now, who is it going to hurt? the business guys will still fly in their corporate jets. it's just the jets will cost more money, but probably fewer people will be working making
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those planes. now, is that good policy or bad policy? i'm all for having that debate. i'm not going to defend the corporate jets. i will defend the people that make them. but let's have that debate in the context of tax reform that we have all said we're for doing so that if we decide it is good policy to eliminate that accelerated depreciation provision, we do that and then we apply the savings to reducing tax rates overall, which is exactly what the president said we should do. in his state of the union speech, he pointed out that america is not competitive with the rest of the world. we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, and he said we have got to get it down. what we ought to do is eliminate loopholes in the tax code and with the savings that we have then reduce overall corporate rates so instead of paying 35%, our corporations would pay maybe 20% or 25%, which is still above the world average of developed countries, but at least we would be more competitive.
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so what's the right policy here? should we be demagoguing corporate jets or should we think through the policy? we might just be hurting regular americans here and think twice about the kind of political language that we're using. even oil and gas. we have to tax the big oil companies. everybody knows you put the tax on, the next thing you know, you will be paying more tax when you fill up your car at the local service station. so think through who you're really going to hit with these taxes on millionaires and billionaires and big corporations, even the death tax. the death tax is part of the taxes the president would like to have rates go up on. go back to the 45% rate. that's almost half, 45% on the estates. now, a lot of these estates are small businesses, farms and ranches, and a lot of times they have to sell all or part of the business or the farm or the ranch in order to pay the estate tax.
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so who are you really hurting when you do this? i've got a friend who had a small printing business in phoenix, and he was one of the largest charitable givers in our community. a fine, wonderful man. his name was jerry wasadski. he created the business from nothing, moved out from new york city, had over 200 employees when he died. he had boys and girls clubs named after him. he and his family contributed as much money to charity in phoenix as anybody that i know. well, they had to sell the business because the estate taxes were eating them up. the out-of-state company that bought the business didn't contribute to the local community. they didn't contribute to charity. who got hurt when we imposed that estate tax, that death tax on jerry's family? so let's just stop and think one reason we don't want to focus on taxes, we would rather focus on spending here, is because a lot of times when you focus on the
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millionaires and billionaires, you end up hurting a lot of other people instead. and the third reason and frankly the most important from an economic standpoint, of course, is the fact that tax hikes kill job creation and economic growth, and i alluded to this in the second point that i made. 54% of all of our jobs are from small businesses, and when you hurt small business' ability to hire people, obviously you're hurting families, you're creating more unemployment and you're preventing the economy from rebounding. i mentioned the fact that the top two brackets of our income tax code is where at least half of all of the small business income is reported and taxes are paid. that's one of the areas where the administration wants to increase taxes. why would you do this? as the small business administration says, when it would force many small businesses -- or could force many small businesses to close. it doesn't make sense, and that's why we're focused on cutting spending, capping that spending over time and ensuring
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that those caps stay in place through a balanced budget amendment. the american people, i think, have an understanding of this. there have been a lot of polls quoted lately. i just wanted to refer to one which is only a-week-old. it's the rasmussen poll from last thursday. the question was asked whether there should be a tax hike included in any legislation to raise the debt ceiling. pretty straightforward question. rasmussen is a reputable pollster. one week ago. most voters said no. only 34% thought that a tax hike should be included. 55% disagreed; said it should not. among those affiliated with neither political party, the so-called independents, 35% favored it; 51%, a majority, opposed including a tax hike in the legislation to raise the debt ceiling.
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so we're with the american people on this. it isn't necessary. taxes aren't the problem. it affects a lot more people than they ever think it will. and finally, if you want to really hurt economic growth, if you want to really kill jobs kra*ebg creation, just pile more taxes on the economy. it doesn't make sense. and that, mr. president, is why we are so insistent on supporting legislation that would cut spending rather than raising taxes. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from kansas. mr. moran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent for two things. i ask unanimous consent that jera settles, an intern on my staff, have floor privileges for the rest of the day. i also unanimous consent to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you. yesterday i was on the senate floor talking about this piece of legislation now pending before the united states senate passed by the house of representatives earlier this week. i am a sponsor and support of cut, cap, and balance and believe that it is a path toward responsibility that we need to demonstrate here in the united states senate, here in the congress and here in america. mr. president, it seems to me that it would be -- it's certainly irresponsible not to raise the debt ceiling, but it's equally or more responsible not to raise the debt ceiling without making adjustments in the way we do business in washington, d.c. and clearly cutting spending is a component of that. capping spending is a portion of
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our national economy. returning it to the days in which just a few years ago in which we were spending only 18 -- i say only in quotes perhaps, only 18% of our gross national product by the federal government. unfortunately, in the last few years that 18% has grown to 25%, 24.2%. and so reducing some spending, capping that spending in the intermediate future so that it doesn't exceed a certain portion of the national economy, and finally passing a balanced budget amendment to the united states constitution seems to me to be a reasonable, rational approach to solving the problems that we face. i also indicated yesterday that in my view, there's a fourth component. it's cut, cap, balance and grow. and i don't want us to forget the importance of a growing economy. the last time we had our budget that was in balance, close to being in balance was at the end of the term of president
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clinton. and, yes, there were some spending restraints back in those days and those years. republicans and democrats couldn't get together and pass major pieces of legislation that increased spending, and so that spending restraint was an important component. but the other part of that was the economy was growing and people were working. and as a result, they were paying taxes. and that is the more enjoyable component of our work here, in addition to restraining spending, capping its percentage of the economy, and putting a balanced budget in place so that we don't get back in the mess that we're in. the other aspect of that is to make sure that we make the policy decisions here in our nation's capital that allow a businessperson, an employer to make the decision. now is the time to invest in plant and equipment. now is the time to add additional employees. and yet, there are so many aspects of decisions that have been made in our nation's capital over a long period of time that now come together and
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discourage an individual business owner, a potential employer from making the decision that i'm going to invest in the economy. we've all heard the numbers about the amount of money setting on the sidelines in the u.s. economy. and in my view, the recession that we're in has lingered longer than necessary because there is so much uncertainty in regard to what's going to happen next. and a large portion of that uncertainty comes from the inability to predict what policy decisions are going to be made here in the united states senate, across the hall in the house, and what the obama administration is going to propose and potentially put in place in regard to rules and regulations. so, i certainly hope that my colleagues here in the senate will take the proposal by the house of representatives as serious work. i certainly agree that there can be negotiations had. there's been, as i indicated yesterday, some concern about the specific language of the constitutional amendment that requires a balanced budget.
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and we ought not to draw the line in the sand and say that it has to be exactly the way that it's written. let's come together and work to find a reasonable, rational solution based upon the outline that this legislation provides. from time to time it's been considered a radical piece of legislation, labeled that way. and yet, so many of the things that we do in our everyday lives in states across our nation encounter and the way they conduct business are certainly capsulized in cut, cap, and balance. i know there's been significant talk about raising taxes. i heard the senator from arizona speak to this just a few minutes ago. when an individual is struggling to pay the bills, we don't often have the opportunity to ask for a pay raise. what we do at home, what we should do in our own lives is to reduce our spending levels. and simply asking for more money
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to meet our current obligations is not usually an option. and it goes -- that tax issue goes along with my comments just a moment ago about the importance of growing the economy. and too often we look at taxes as a source of revenue. i'm for raising revenue, but i'm for raising revenue by a growing economy and people being at work, paying those taxes. not by raising the tax rates, but by improving the economy and allowing good things to happen to family, individuals and businesses across the country. and so that, tax code is an important component of this issue of growing our economy and getting our deficit back in line, back with some level of responsible behavior here. and the initial point that i want to make in addition to what i have said already today but also what i said yesterday to the senate is this is the
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one-year anniversary of the passage of dodd-frank. huge financial regulations were put in place by legislation just a year ago today that were passed by the house and senate and signed by president obama. and in my view, that legislation is another component of the difficulty in knowing what's coming down the road. hundreds of regulations yet to be proposed, pursued and enacted; and so many of our businesses and financial institutions don't know what to expect. and, therefore, again waiting to see what happens to the federal government, what decisions are made here in this case not by congress now, but by regulators up the street here in our nation's capital. and so on this anniversary of the passage of that legislation, i want to again highlight what i think is a commonsense reform to that legislation. a part of dodd-frank created the consumer financial protection bureau, and a number of us
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senators have signed a letter to president obama trying to make clear that before a head of that bureau is going to be confirmed by the united states senate, we believe that structural reform changed in the nature of that organization needs to occur. and again, these seem very straightforward and commonsense to me, but rather than have a single head of the consumer financial protection bureau, i would ask that -- in fact, i've introduced legislation to do this, and my colleagues in signing that letter asked the president to help us change that individual to a border commission, similar to other government agencies charged with financial oversight so the power does not rest in a sole individual. then, again, one would think congress would never want to give up the authority to determine the appropriations for this agency. and instead, the legislation, the law as currently written, provides for a draw against the
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federal reserve as compared to an agency, like almost all agencies, have to come to congress, have to come and ask for their appropriation, gives us as legislators, me as a member of the senate appropriations committee, as ranking member of the financial services subcommittee on appropriations, the opportunity to review, to have input, to provide oversight. and we ought to change that formula by which the money comes directly from the federal reserve and put it back in, with the responsibility of this congress making those decisions. and finally, we want to have banking regulators who oversee the safety and soundness of our financial institutions today, that they be given meaningful input into the bureau's operation. all designed to provide greater opportunity for us as members of congress, for the american people to have input and oversight over what will be one of the largest agencies, most powerful regulators in our country's history and certainly
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having significant creation of new rules and regulations that are going to in some fashion affect the u.s. economy. many of my community pwrafrpbgz feel so -- banks feel so overregulated today there is a real concern or fear about making loans today, something that is very important for an economic recovery, that aspect of growing the economy, because they don't know what the next set of regulations are going to be. in fact, for the passage of dodd-frank, the legislation that we are now observing the one-year anniversary of it becoming law, the g.a.o., general accounting office, estimates that the budgetary costs of dodd-frank will exceed $1.25 billion. in addition to that, the congressional budget office estimates that over the next ten years dodd-frank will take $27 billion directly from the u.s. economy in new fees and assessments on lenders and other financial companies. so, as we look at the
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legislation that's pending before us, cut, cap, and balance, my hope is that we will expand, once we pass that legislation, we'll get back to aggressively pursuing a projob, progrowth agenda. and jobs certainly are important for us in generating the revenues necessary to fund the federal government and to reduce our national debt. but there's nothing more important to americans, to kansans across our state than being able to have a secure opportunity for employment, to put food on their families' tables, to save for their own retirement and their children's education. and i do believe, seriously believe that a significant message that was delivered by the american people in the election of november of 2010 was the reminder to us that we have the responsibility -- again, government's not a creator of jobs, but we are the creator of an environment in which the private sector can create jobs. so let's cut, cap, balance, grow the economy, strengthen the
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opportunity for every american to have a valuable and viable job with the hope of improvement in their own lives. and most importantly, make certain we pass on to the next generation of americans the ability to pursue that american dream. mr. president, i thank you for are the opportunity of addressing the senate, and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. chambliss: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. chambliss: mr. president, i rise today to talk about the bill that's before the senate today, but as a part of that we are now in the midst of a true fiscal crisis in this country, and i want to address something that has been debated over the last several days, discussed over the last several days, criticized over the last several days, and been the object of a lot of misinformation by colleagues on my side of the aisle particularly about the proposal that has been submitted by the so-called gang of six, of
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which i happen to be a member and someone who for the last seven months has participated in discussions with two of my colleagues on our side of the aisle as well as three on the other side of the aisle to try to find a bipartisan solution to being able to repay the $14.3 trillion that our federal government owes and that we have all participated in creating. and the misinformation that's going around from my friends is very disturbing, because people are here on this floor throwing out numbers that are wrong, giving specifics on a piece of legislation tha that has not evn been written, and yet they're talking like they're experts on the subject of a matter that my five colleagues and i have been discuss, debating among ourselves for the last six
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months, and we haven't even put the legislation out there yet. so it's really pretty disturbing to me that there are some people in this body that want to see nothing done, and i assume want us to continue down the road of borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar that we are spending, and i'm not willing to do that. i think that we were sent here with a commitment from our constituents to solve the serious problems that this country faces. the only way we're going to solve this fiscal problem that we have is to generate 60 votes in this body in support of some proposal. i'm going to talk in support of the proposal that we have under consideration now, because i think it is a potential solution, and i'm very appreciative of the authors of the cut, cap, and balance bill. i'm appreciative of our leadership for at least trying to come forward with something and put it on the table to give us the opportunity to debate
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those ideas. i think there have been a number of very positive proposals that have come forward and hopefully that will come forward in the next few days to allow us to debate this issue and to primarily solve the problem relative to the debt ceiling and solve the problem relative to the long-term debt that we have. but i will have to say, i really am disturbed about some of the comments and statements, even from folks who are critical of the plan that we put forward for cutting too much in spending, and these are the folks who have been ranting and raving about the fact that we are spending too much money in this town, and now they're complaining about the fact that we're cutting too much in spending. i -- i -- i look forward to continuing this debate, and i just want to say that the proposal that we put forward was
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intended from day one to be a framework -- not the final product but a framework for this body, as well as the house, to discuss as a way forward for solving the issue of how we're going to repay this $14.3 trillion. we never, ever intended for it to be in the mix on solving the issue of the debt ceiling that needs to be raised according to the department of treasury by august the 2nd. because we happened to come to the conclusion of our negotiations this week at the same time that the debate on the debt -- raising the debt ceiling is reaching its height has obviously created some impression on some folks that our proposal is intended to solve the issue of the debt ceiling, and it's not. it categorically is not. and i want to make that
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perfectly clear. that being said, if there is any part of our agreement, any part of our principles that can be utilized by the leadership of the house and the senate to figure out a way forward on the debt ceiling, boy, we have no pride of authorship, and we hope leadership will take advantage of anything that can be used to try to generate the necessary support in this body as well as in the senate -- excuse me, as well as in the house to solve this issue of this deadline that we're facing on august 2. mr. president, i do, as i say, rise in full support of the cut, cap, and balance legislation. i'm proud to be a cosponsor of this bill. i commend my fellow senators in this chamber who have taken it upon themselves to offer solutions to the large and growing problem of our debt and our deficit. a majority of republicans here in the senate as well as a majority of those in the house
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believe that legislation that cuts government spending and places tough enforcement mechanisms on the federal budget is the right way to bring spending under control. i'm also proud to be a cosponsor of a separate balanced budget amendment proposal. i firmly believe that all of these proposals will structure and control the federal government's spending just as americans have demanded. we are in the mill of a fiscal crisis -- we are in the middle of a fiscal cries. last year the government spent at a rate of 25% of our gross domestic product and took in revenues of about 14.5% of our domestic product. the result of that is that last year for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2010, we had in excess of a $1.5 trillion deficit. 6 it looks -- it looks like we're headed in that same direction this year and that is totally
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unsustainable. our financial markets have told us that. the folks who sell or are in the process of putting together another sale of our bonds have told us that, and we know that the people who are looking at buying those bonds are looking very closely at how this body acts over the next several days. some people have said that the bond market is the most honest financial market out there. as the bond market tends to track truest to the debtors' overall fiscal standing. the bond rating agencies have already told us that we are approaching the edge of what the market will bear. we are close to the brink of our self-imposed debt limit of $14.3 trillion. we must give serious, solemn consideration to any plan that will turn us immediately away from our overspending. we need to be mindful of the consequences of a default. forcing the administration to
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make spending decisions is only one problem we face. a default and the subsequent rise in interest rates means we will find ourselves deeper in debt and rampant inflation will prevent us from achieving fiscal solvency. current levels of discretionary and mandatory spending cannot be sustained and, mr. president, i say that with respect to every area of the federal government. we cannot allow any area of the federal government to go untouched, because if we do, then we will allow that area of our government to continue to grow and be out of control. we must cut federal spending anywhere we can and in every department of the federal government. mr. president, we also have to reform entitlements. we have to look at the issues that are very difficult for a lot of us to deal with and we have to make some very tough decisions. too frequently have we engaged in political theater instead of
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earnest efforts to resolve these long-term budget issues. the american people expect and deserve an honest budget debate and an honest budget process. on tuesday of this week, the house made a historic vote. its members decided that congress can no longer fain interest in securing our financial future. they took the right step of voting to cut spending and place rigid caps on remaining expenditures with tough budget enforcement mechanisms and i commend them for their efforts. now is the time for join our colleagues in the house. we must look for new ways of ensuring that congress cannot break promises. the best path forward towards fiscal stability will set a firm foundation and this legislation will do exactly that. george washington gave clear guidance when he told the house of representatives that no consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt.
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we can no longer allow the american people to suffer by not providing the economic basis for recovery and growth. the equation is simple. a balanced federal budget that is free of excessive debt leads to a healthy economy and a sustainable job creation activity. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgiament mr. isakson: mr. president, i rise today in support of house resolution 2560, cut, cap and balance. i've been watching the debate on my tv back in the office this afternoon, listening to the arguments made pro and con and thinking to myself that back home in georgia, there are a lot of folks that i live around my house that are scratching their head if they're watching this debate. they're wondering why cut, cap and balance is such a bad idea, because, mr. president, they've had to cut, they've had to cap, they've had to balance.
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the caller i left before i came to speak on this floor was from a minister and his wife that i know. they're both retired. both of their daughters are married and live away from georgia. boat of them have been in financial difficulty. both of them are on the brink of losing their homes. but through the counseling of the minister and their support, they counseled and showed them where to cap, where to cut and where to balance so they could make their mortgage payments and not lose their homes. americans all over the county are having to do that. they've had to do it. the economic recession we're in has mandated it. you know, there are no excuses with the i.r.s. or with bill collectors or with people you may do business with. if you don't pay, there are consequences. america as a country must ask of itself what we impose and ask of every citizen in our country. i think also there are probably a lot of members of the georgia legislature that are watching this debate and they're scratching their head. because in my state in the last four years we've cut $5 billion, from $22 billion to a $17 billion budget. you know why we've cut?
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because our constitution says you've got to have a balanced budget. you can't borrow to pay for everyday operations. and you must live within your means. and as our revenues have gone down in the recession, we've had to cut, and, yes, a lot of those cuts have been painful. but many of the states now are coming back. there was an article just the other day about the number of states coming back that are showing future break -- future months of growth in their revenue, growth in their income and even looking to surplus as that will come in the years to come. why? because when they had to do it, they balanced their budget, they capped their expenditures and they did what their constitution requires. this proposal tells us, first of all, to make cuts that would materialize early on at about $51 billion but would be a down payment on a process to continue the cutting process to reduce our debt sit and over time our -- deficit and over time our debt. it has a formula for capping our expenditures in the future, going from 21.7% of g.d.p. to 19.9% of g.d.p., which, by the
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way, mr. president, falls within the realm of the last 40-year averages until the last few years, where we've gone from 20% to 22% to 24% to 24.6% of g.d.p. it is not unreasonable to ask us to impose upon ourselves a cap that is consistent with the averages of our past. and remember this, mr. president, as we get our arms around our spending, as we live within our means, business will prosper, revenues will go up to companies, taxes will go up to us and that percentage of g.d.p. will give you a broader margin. it's only when you're in a declining economy, a recessionary environment where revenues go down that caps are really hurting you a lot because you're hurting yourself, you're not empowering business, profits go down, revenues go down to the country. and then on the balanced budget amendment, this provision leaves room for negotiation between bodies as to what the caps would be in the balanced budget amendment, whether it would be a supermajority of 60 or 67 to raise taxes. it's a realistic approach to
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cause us to sit around the table of congress and negotiate what's right for the country. if it's right for almost every state in our union to have to balance their budget, to cap their spending and to limit their borrowing, it should be right for us. this proposal is right for america. it's basically what we require of our citizens. it's now time we require it of ourselves. so i am proud to join with my fellow members of the republican conference in the united states senate to vote for a new discipline for america that cuts excessive spending, caps wasteful spending, and over time allows us a road map to -- to have a balanced budget and a g.d.p. ratio to debt -- g.d.p. ratio to expenditures that is doable, is workable and is historically justifiable. mr. president, i yield back my time.
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mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent i be recognized for 15 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: mr. president, first of all, let me just make a comment on something totally unrelated to the subject of the day and that is that we have a very significant bill that's coming up that the -- the occupier of the chair and i have put together. it's called the pilots' bill of rights. and the reason i want to say something about it, getting toward the end of the week right now, is that it happens that a week from today, the largest gathering any time, any place in the world of pilots to get together at oshkosh for the big event. i have been going for 32 consecutive years. we have probably the most significant single piece of legislation that we've ever introduced at oshkosh and we're going to have literally thousands -- i'm talking about 200,000 pilots, these are
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single-issue people. i've been a pilot for 50 years and i know how these people think. the pilots' bill of rights is going to offer an opportunity to these people who might be accused of something to have access to the evidence and it's something that they -- that everyone's for. as a matter of fact, it's something that you may -- i haven't said yet but i just heard that the air traffic controllers are supporting this effort. so we're going to have a lot of people. we already have 34 cosponsors and the reason i want to say -- and i know not many members are listening right now but a lot of staffers are. pilots are single-issue people and they're going to want to know who is cosponsor of this bill when we get up there. we'll be talking for a period of two hours at two different settings and we'll have thousands, literally thousands of the pilots there. and so i encourage very strongly people who may be listening to us right now to have their members look at this very carefully because, as i say,
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pilots are single-issue people and this is their issue and it's something that's -- i did this twice before, once in 1994, when we were able to use the population at oshkosh to push over the top the first product liability bill that changed our major -- our -- our manufacturing of aircraft from a major importer to a major exporter. it all happened at oshkosh. another time it happened was with bob hoover. i think i could safely say it would be considered to be perhaps the best pilot in america today. he's up in the air. this guy is -- he had a problem that we helped him with. it was an emergency revocation and we did it in oshkosh. so i just hope that we get a lot more people that are interested in general aviation and particularly if you're on the general aviation caucus, you -- and you're not on this bill, there are going to be an awful lot of questions. mr. president, let me just make a few comments about the cut, cap and balance.
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i can remember coming down to this floor, standing at this podium just a little over a -- about 15 years ago. this is back during the clinton administration. and i came down here because the clinton budget for the entire country at that time was $1.5 trillion. and i came down to and stood here and said, how is it possible to sustain a level like 100 -- like $1.5 trillion? that was to run the united states of america for the entire year of 1996. now, i think the outrage this year is that in president obama's current budget, the deficit alone was $1.65 trillion. in other words, the deficit alone right now is greater than what it took to run the entire country for a period of a year back in 1996. and it's something that you can't continue doing.
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i believe that the spending's gone so out of line that peopl people -- it's not really believable. it's not possible that people think that this could be happening. president obama has managed to increase federal spending by over 30% to an average of $3.6 trillion a year. $3.6 trillion. well, i was complaining about $1.5 trillion. this is $3.5 trillion and it's just 15 years later. now, where is -- where is -- is anyone listening out there? doesn't anyone really care? maybe since i have 20 kids and grandkids, i'm a little more sensitive to the fiscal destruction of this country. the -- this has caused our national debt to increase by 35% and today we have to borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend. and it just happened, and this is something that we've -- we've got to address. i think we're so wrapped up now in saying how are we going to get by this -- this deadline of the 2nd of august. i'd like to remind everyone something that most people don't know, it's shocking they don't
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know it, they think that this is the first time in the obama administration that we have talked about increasing the debt limit. it's not. it's the fourth time. and so what he does is keep on coming up with the trillions of dollars of deficit each time, $5 trillion in three budgets, and, believe me, it's not anyone else in this chamber, it's not in the other chamber, in the house, it's one person, the president of the united states has come up with his budget. that's his budget. he signs it and he sends it to us. well, that's a total of $5 trillion over the last three budgets and it's just not a possible thing that this could be happening. and so this being the fourth time that he's wanted to increase the deficit, this is the strategy. you go out and you spend all this money like drunken sailors and then you come right up to the last minute and say the world's going to come to an end unless you increase the debt limit. you've got to stop someplace, and i decided last time he did this that i was going to stop unless we had some type of
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discipline. and the only discipline i can see that's out there is the cut, cap and trade and the balanced budget amendment. and i think that we need to take -- look at this really carefully because if you stop and put this down -- what i normally do on something like this is i see how does this affect the average person. this increase just in this period of time is -- would be a -- $11,000 for every man, woman and child increase from the time that this president took office. now, that's an increase. the total amount that they would owe would be $46,000. that's the day that they are born, happy birthday. well, over the past several weeks, we have talked about what to do about the debt limit and i have looked at all the plans, there are three major plans out there, and i have -- looking carefully, the problem i have with the plan that has come up that is called the gang of six
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or the gang of seven, depending on which group you're looking at, is that it has some -- some intangibles in there. for example, the cuts, the military cuts, it doesn't say where they are, but we're talking about it around what? a billion dollars. almost a trillion dollars over a period of ten years. i'm on the armed services committee. i can tell you right now i don't know where that's going to come from. that's a problem, until they come up with more specifics. they might do it. it might be perfectly plausible. but as it is right now, the -- the cut, cap and balance is the only one i have seen that would really work. i haven't been involved in all these discussions. a lot of people have been involved. those certainly are working to try to come up with the answers, the ones going down to the white house every other day and talking with the president. i don't happen to be one of those. my major concern right now -- i at least mention this. i have done several shows today
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to try to let people understand, make people understand yes, the deficit and the spending, all that is terrible, but what is equally as bad that nobody knows about is what's happening in terms of the regulations. you know, we have all these programs that this administration has tried to pass. i would say the main one that people are familiar with is cap-and-trade. you remember the whole thing, it's been going on for ten years now. the cap-and-trade would cost the american people somewhere between $300 billion and and $400 billion a year. that's a huge thing. bringing that figure down to every tax-paying family in my state of oklahoma, that would be a little over $3,000 a year, and you get nothing for it. according to the president's own director of the environmental protection agency, lisa jackson, when i asked her on the record would this -- if we were to pass any of these cap-and-trade bills, would this reduce co2
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co-- co2 emissions, assuming you want to reduce co2 emissions. she said no, if you apply it in the united states. i would carry it one step further. as we run out of ways to create energy in america, we would have a job flight from our manufacturing base that would have to go to places like china and india and mexico where they don't really have any emission restrictions. it would if anything increase emissions. nonetheless -- in fact, i would say this. i'm very proud of the united states senate because now they have perhaps at the very most 24 votes to pass a cap-and-trade, so what does the president do? he says fine, we'll do it through regulations. so through regulations, he's attempt to go do that. and we're going to hear next week just another example. i could name -- in fact, there are six major areas where regulations are costing hundreds of billions of dollars, but another one he's going to announce next week is going to be tightening the standards on
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that and it's one that will be costing in the neighborhood of of $90 billion each year. so just in two of these regulations, you have have $400 billion a year that it's costing the american people. and people aren't just aware of it. you know, someone -- some smart guy in my office went back and he said you're not the first person to be concerned about these regulations and the cost of regulations. politicians don't talk about it because no one understands it, but ronald reagan back in 1981 -- i'm reading right now, this is a quote. he said -- "overregulation causes small and independent business men and women as well as large businesses to defer or terminate plans for expansion." that's when he said -- "i have asked vice president bush" -- that was the first bush -- "to head a cabinet level task force on relief." they realized then the cost of overregulation. it's come to the point now where it's every bit as important as the spending problem. but we're talking about the spending problem right now, and
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there is nothing really complicated right now. you spend more than we take in, you go into debt. we can't keep doing that forever. as long as we keep getting these budgets from the president, each year, three budgets now, totaling a greater increase in debt than all presidents since george washington combined, but nobody seems to understand, no one seems to care. we're going to have to do something about it for our future generations. and we -- we're going to do it. i just hope that when this vote comes up -- and i think it's been set. i believe it's set for tomorrow on the cut, cap and balance, that this would be something that will be seriously considered. i would say particularly by people who are coming up for re-election in 2012, you ought to be thinking about this because this is going to be a huge issue. to stand here on the floor in this crisis that we're facing now and not vote for a balanced budget amendment is going to be something that you're going to have to answer to the people. so while the caps that we talk
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about -- and of course we're talking about cuts, caps and balance that would be over a period of time, it's no good unless you have some kind of enforcing mechanism. this bill that will be -- that we will be voting on tomorrow, i understand, does have that enforcement mechanism. it has sequestrations. it leads to automatic cuts so that the -- if congress decides that they are going to spend above the caps that are allowed, then automatic sequestration goes into effect. and it works. it's enforceable. you know, the -- we have watched the spending go up and i reminisce that this has been going on for a long time. people are saying, well, we're to the going to be able to pass a cut, cap and balance budget because they have been trying to pass a balanced budget amendment for some 40 years or so and they haven't been able to do it. i think this is the unique time that's different than the past 40 years. this is the first time that i have seen where the average person knows you can't sustain this thing.
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you can't go from a budget running the united states of america for $1.5 trillion and then all of a sudden it's it's $3.5 trillion all due to one president, you can't continue to do that. and i can remember way back many, many years ago when i was in the state legislature, there was a great senator named carl curtis from nebraska. carl curtis was a -- quite elderly at that time, and he had been trying to do a balanced budget amendment for probably 20 years at that time. this is back in the 1970's. but he came to me in the state legislature in oklahoma and he said i have got an idea. he said the argument they use against a balanced budget amendment is the states, 3/4 of the states will never ratify it. so he said let's preratify a budget-balancing amendment. he was kind of a genius. he came to me. i happened to be the first state that he came to. he said will you take this on as a project? so we actually in my state of
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oklahoma, we're the first state in the history to preratify a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. it was really kind of fun. and then others -- it was so popular that others started doing it, and we got right up to the 3/4 and didn't quite get over that. but that's something that took place. it took place many years ago. so this is something we know is not easy, something that's difficult to do, but now we have another chance. it's the first time we have had a chance where a majority of the people by polling showed that they are outraged, they are going to have to do something, and even though we have raised the debt limit countless times, this is the one time that's getting all the attention. it's getting the attention because we have sustained -- we have something that is no longer sustainable. we got another chance. the balanced budget amendment provision in the cut, cap and balance would prevent the debt limit from being raised until congress sends one of the three balanced budget amendment proposals to the states for ratification. in other words, the amendment
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would have to pass both chambers by a two-thirds majority before the debt limit is allowed to increase. this makes sense. it's a permanent solution to our problem. within five years of ratification, the amendment would require congress to pass a balanced budget every year and it would cap total spending at 18% of g.d.p. right now, it's hovering around 20% of g.d.p. so it's even lower than the -- than the caps that we have had before. it would also require a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. we all know that conditions could change. we could be in a war and this does have that provision which i think is very responsible. the balanced budget amendment is the only reform that will put our nation on a true path for permanent fiscal stability. it will force comprehensive and real changes to the federal government and its spending priorities. if it's ratified, it would remove the risk of a debt crisis. in short, it would put our nation on a path to limited government that it has not seen
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in years. so i really think that this is the opportunity. we have three different opportunities to come together. we have heard about the -- the proposal by the leader and by i think the majority leader also that might be some kind of a last effort, and maybe that's what we would be considering, but the first and the best and the easiest and the fiscally most responsible is the cap -- cut, cap and balance. so we will have that opportunity tomorrow. it's very significant. we take advantage of that opportunity, and i believe -- i'm not the pessimist that most people are. i think we have got a shot at this thing. if the american people are watching carefully, we could pass this thing. i appreciate that, and i yield the floor. mr. inshove: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president, thank you. well, i come down here frustrated and hopeful. i want to try to keep the glass half full or see the glass halfful, a even though we've been through a frustrating number of days and months dealing with our debt crisis. and here we are careening toward another crisis. we went through that earlier in the year. it's really not a good way to legislate. maybe it is the only way. it sliedges the only way we ultimately get things down around here is to take it right up to the edge and then come through with some kind of agreement. i don't think it's fair to the american people.
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it clearly isn't a formula for providing certainty in our economy for those who are running businesses, for households that are having to make tough decisions. if there's one word that characterizes where we have been this entire year, it's "uncertainty." uncertainty about what the future is going to look like. are we going to default or are we not going to default? do we have enough known pay the bills or do we not have enough known pay the bills? what are the consequences after default -- of a potential default? when we had the continuing resolutions to provide funding for the rest of year, we went from one extension to another extension to another extension. everything is in limbo. how can you run an economy, how can a businessman or woman make a decision if they don't know what's coming down the line in terms of taxes, in terms of regulations, in terms of the economic climate, in terms of whether people will be buying, selling, or just signature on
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their money, and add to that in the third year of a slowdown, a recession. now, the economy is growing, but not growing at a rate that's putting people back to work. we all want to get that economy moving again. and inserting certainty into the process will certainly -- no pun intended -- be a positive step forward. now, i think there's virtually unanimous consent that this government has grown too big, it spends too much, it doesn't have the revenues to pay for what it does, and there needs to be a real reform taking place and taking place soon. we're 12 days away from august 2, the date that the treasury department has indicated we run out of money and don't have enough to pay our bills. obligations that have been committed to, promised can't be
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paid because we don't have the funds to do so on august 2. we have known this day is coming for a long ring long time. in fact we were originally told we run out of money in march. then for some reason it was moved to may, then again moved to august. i don't know exactly how they're moving money around at the treasury to extend this particular date, but it appears that we now are at the end of the road. we're at the wall and decisions have to be maivmentd the question is, are we going to take the necessary steps, make the tough decisions, do what we need to do to control our spending, to put in place mechanisms that will ensure that we don't continue to do what's been done over the past several years and put policies in place that will stimulate our economy and get people back to work? after all, it's really all about jobs. it's all about an economy that is providing tiewntdz
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opportunities for young people coming out of college, out of high school, opportunities for people to buy homes and raise their families and save money and send their kids to school, to keep a good-paying job, to be able to pay the mortgage, and all the bills that come to the household every month. that's really what it's all about. and unless we address these issues before us here fiscally, we're not going to get to the point where people have any sense or hope for the future. now, i said i'm frustrated, and i guess i've just expressed some of that frustration. but i'm also hopeful. i'm hopeful because in times of crisis solutions can be found. we wish we could do it in a more systematic way. wish we had done it in the past several months, but we did not. so here we are. and now i think the focus is clearly on getting to a soluti solution. and so we're debating a plan
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that has been put forward called cut, cap, and balance. cut because we're spending more money than we can afford to spend, cap because we want to put flores place not to spend -- procedures in place not to spend more than we can afford in the future years out, and balance -- a balanced budget amendment of the constitution so that when members come here and put their left hand on a bible and their right hand in the air and swear to uphold and support and defend the constitution of the united states, and that constitution says that you can't spend more than you take in, you need to balance your budget just like households and businesses all across america and virtually all of our states have these either in statute or in amendment form, the federal government excepted. i don't believe we have the discipline or that congress has demonstrated the discipline
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necessary to run a fiscal house that is anywhere close to balance. despite all the wonderful speeches and we're going to cut this and do that and provide for this and provide for that, we have just seen an explosion of debt, an explosion of spending, irregardless of what the revenues coming in happen to total. and so a constitutional balanced budget amendment will give us the spine and the backbone and the duty and responsibility to uphold the constitution in that regard and achieve -- and make the tough, tough choices, make the tough votes every year. this happens in our state every year. we somehow survive and in fact we're doing pretty darn well because our legislators have to go before the people and say, that's a nice idea, we could go there, but we've got to balance
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our budget. so now if you're willing -- we could raise your taxes to do that if you want that extra program or we can cut another program and substitute the money saved from that for this program or, folks, we just can't go there, we don't have the money. these are the choice that we have to make. this is the responsibility that we have. wwell, i said i'm hopeful. why am i hopeful? i am a baseball fan, a sports fan. i a. i've seen so many -- basketball -- i've seen so many sports situations where the announcers have said or the spectators have observed, it is homeless. that's no way -- it's hopeless. therthere's no way they can come back and pull this out. but then i have seen miraculous comebacks in the fourth quarter of basketball games, maybe the last two minutes, where you've just about written off any kind of victory at all, and all of a sudden you come from behind.
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so whether it is soccer, baseball, basketball, or whatever, we all have experienced those situations that give us hope, that even though the clock is ticking down, as it is own this debt limit -- as it is on this debt limit debate, some are saying we're never going to get there i'm hopeful that we can come tabored a sensible plan. and in my opinion and the opinion of many, the cut, cap, and balance is a plan that can get to us where we need to go -- get us to where we need to go. clearly we need, first, and cut does this, we need first to address our spending issue and then cap so that we don't keep running into this year after year and then balance so that we're committed to it for the long term. and in order to get there, this provision before us gives us the opportunity to do just that.
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the reforms that we need to address, not just cutting but addressing the out-of-control deficit driving entitlement programs that need to be reformed nortd to save those benefits and programs for the future, not take them away, not watch it go into insolvency, all those need to be addressed. and i hope that they will be. and this is the plan that can get us there. so we'll be voting on this i now learned tomorrow morning. and i am a just urging my colleagues to look at this in a serious way. there's been a lot of criticism of various plans that republicans have put forward and yet the president hasn't put anything forward. and my colleagues across the aisle, the democrats, haven't put a budget forward or a plan forward. and so, yeah, we get criticism because they don't like this part of our plan or they don't
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like that part of our plan and we're not saying our plan is perfect, but where's yours? we have nothing to measure it against. democrats are in the majority in the united states senate. republicans are a minority party. but nothing has been put forward here for us to debate, to vote on. there's no way we can stand heenders say, well, here's our plan. what do you like about it? what do you not like about it? or for you to stand there and ad say, here's our plan. let's meld these two things together. nothing has been provided by the other side. so, yes, we're here with cut, cap, and balance. people said, no, that's not the one. and people have said, gang of six? no, that's not the one. and people have said, other provisions that have been brought forward -- no, that's not the one. well, okay, fine. you don't like that, what is the one? what is the one that gets us
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there? so as we approach here the very end of all this, we have to understand the consequences of what we do are enormous, and doing what is right for the future of america and the future of the american people, the future of our generations to follow is what ought to be driving us at this point toward reaching a rational, sensible solution to put us on the path to fiscal responsibility and get our financial house in order. and so, just hours left before we have this vote and if this vote doesn't pass -- and many are predicting it won't; the president has said he will veto it if it does -- i'm still hopeful we can pull something out here in the bottom of the ninth. and if it doesn't pass, where do we go next? owe wso we need leadership and e need leadership from the leader
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of our country to guide us us o where we need to go if they're going to simply jeectd everything we put forward. let's be very careful how we evaluate our vote tomorrow and the implications that it has for the future of this country. and the fact that the complok is ticking -- and the fact that the clock is ticking ever louder as we careen toward a cries on august 2. with that, i yield the floor. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. 6. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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objection. mr. lee: mr. president, since i was sworn into office this january, about six months ago, the house and the senate have both been understandably properly concerned with one issue that has perhapsed eclipsed every other issue that has come before us in this half year period of time, that related to our national debt and the anticipated expiration of our debt limit which will hit in just a couple of weeks.
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many americans are understandably concerned and have articulated the concern that if we pass the debt limit deadline of august 2 without raising the debt limit, there could be catastrophic financial consequences. in light of that, i, along with a number of my republican colleagues, both in the senate and in the house, have introduced legislation called "the cut, cap and balance act," to address the debt limit, to address it head-on. and it says that we'll raise the debt limit if three conditions are met. first, if we make significant cuts to domestic discretionary spending for the fiscal year 2012 budget. second, we need statutory spending caps to put us on a smooth but steady glide path toward balancing our budget sometime within the next decade. third, we need a balanced budget amendment passed out of congress and submitted to the states for
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ratification. we think all three of these steps are necessarily required before we take the significant additional step of raising the debt limit. because of the fact that it took us a long time to get to this point, to the point whereby the end of the year we will have accumulated $15 trillion in de debt, about $50,000 for every man, woman and child in america, between $120,000 and $150,000 for every wage earner in america. this is a lot of money. before we extend that debt limit, again by an additional $2.4 trillion, we have to solve the problem. we have to address the problem that led to its creation in a real, lasting, binding, fundamental way. that's why the most critical part of this legislation, while each part is important, happens to be found in that which rests on the idea of a balanced budget
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amendment to the constitution. you see, because we, as members of congress, could decide right now that over the next ten years or 15 years that it might be a good idea to cut spending by $2 trillion, $3 trillion, $4 trillion, $5 trillion, $6 trillion, perhaps more. but if we made that promise today as a down payment to the american people in exchange for the permission of the people to raise the debt limit, it's a promise that we can't really make good on because we can't bind a future congress. this congress was sworn in in january of 2011. elections will be held in november of 2012 and a new congress will be sworn in based on those elections in january 2013. the same thing will happen again in january of 2015 and every two years after that for the duration of our republic. the decisions that we make right here, right now can affect the here and now and can be binding for the here and now but we
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can't reasonably expect and we can't ask the american people when making a decision so long lasting and precedent setting as this one to simply trust us that future congresses will see things the same way that we do. the only way that we can bind a future congress is by amending our law of laws, that 224-year-old document painstakingly ironed out by some of the brightest men of the last several centuries in philadelphia 224 years ago. when we amend the constitution, we make it possible to bind a future congress and that's what we need to do. now, we've had some interesting debate and discussion surrounding this proposal. last friday i listened with surprise and dismay as our president said we don't need to amend the constitution to require a balanced budget but we
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do need to balance our budget. in the president's opinion, congress just needs to do its job, not amend the constitution. i think i understand his point. i think he's suggesting that for congress to do its job, it needs to balance its budget. but i have to ask the question: how has that worked out for us? have past congresses balanced thubalancedtheir budgets? has the current congress balanced their budget? overwhelmingly the answer is no. it happens every now and again. some would describe those instances where it has balanced in the last two or three decades as an ax, others a momentary blip. still others -- as an accident, others a momentary blip. still others would suggest it was accounting gimmickry rather than an actual act of budget balancing when that occurred. but regardless, we know that balanced federal budgets are newsworthy, indeed, because they're very rare.
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i look forward to the day when they're no longer newsworthy, when they're customary and the only way to make them customary based on our experience as americans throughout most of our nation's history is by amending the constitution to require it, to make this a binding and permanent law. i was shocked and dismayed again to learn that our senate majority leader, senator reid from nevada, stated just a few hours ago that he doesn't like this legislation. he made some very disparaging comments about it, notwithstanding the fact and completely ignoring the fact that this isn't just the best legislation to address the debt limit issue, right now it's the only legislation. it is the only legislation that addresses this issue that is moving through congress, that's been reduced to legislative language. certainly the only one that's been passed by one body of congress and is now moving over
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to the united states senate. and so he's criticizing something when he himself hasn't offered anything up. this is the only show in town. and given how close we now are to the august 2 deadline, in part because we've punted this so long, in part because we haven't been having the debate and the discussion in congress that we should have been having for months, this is it. this is the only proposal. now, if senator reid has suggestions on how we might change this proposal, i'm all ears. i'd love to hear what they are f. he has his own proposal, i'd love to see what that is. but simply to stand from that desk over there and disparage this legislation is inexcusable, absolutely inexcusable given the fact that he has offered nothi nothing. let me read some of his words. he said, "the american people should understand that this" -- this, meaning the cut, cap and balance act -- "is a bad piece of legislation, perhaps some of
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the worst legislation in the history of this country." i don't know what he's referring to. he didn't give specifics nor has he given any specifics on what he would like to see in its place or how it could be improved. so my suggestion to our senate majority leader is, if you've got ideas, please, please put them on the table. because as we approach this debt limit deadline, we're running out of time. the clock has been ticking for six months. we've known this was going to happen. this is not news to us. so why, then, has there been so little debate and discussion in this body? why is it we spent weeks and weeks and weeks often dealing with legislation that paled in comparison to the importance of this issue? the clock kept ticking and we kept debating and discussing other legislation far, far less important. this, in my opinion, was a gross
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dereliction of duty. but we've still got a few weeks. we can still deal with it. we can still address it. i suggest strongly that we address it by starting with that legislation that has actually been proposed and that we have full debate and discussion. but, no, we're told. even after the house of representatives earlier this week passed the cut, cap and balance act, passed it with bipartisan support, by the way, no fewer than five members of the democratic caucus in the house of representatives voted to support this. so that was passed tuesday nig night. we were told later that we'd be having a vote on saturday or perhaps monday. and then just a little while ago, we were informed by the senate majority leader that the vote would be tomorrow, giving us little or no time for actual debate and discussion on the
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floor of what is still to this moment the only legislation moving through to address this issue. now, this is not an appropriate moment for demagoguery. demagoguery on an issue this important can result in a lot of unnecessary pain. no one disputes that there could be significant negative economic consequences associated with not raising the debt limit. i don't dispute that, not for a moment. that's exactly why i put my neck on the line in order to file this legislation, because nothing else was moving forward. i didn't want to do it but when i was sworn in as a u.s. senator just a few months ago, i understood that it was my obligation to do what i could to make things better, to make our constitutional system work so i filed it. it's an insult not only to me and to my colleagues but to all americans when addressing an issue this important to have so
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little debate and discussion over this issue. i find it appalling. i find it reprehensible. i demand an explanation and i demand an alternative solution if the senate majority leader is going to pick this apart and say that he won't do it. moreover, i will remind the senate majority leader that just a few short years ago, in 2006, when we had a different president belonging to a different party and this body was in control of another party, if my memory serves me correct correctly, not only did then-senator barack obama vote against raising the debt limit, calling the need to do so the product of a failure of leadership that he wasn't willing to condone and perpetuate, but every single one of his democratic colleagues joined him in that vote. not one of them voted to raise the debt limit. so here we are again approaching the debt limit. here we are again with only republicans stepping up to the plate and offering a solution. only this time the solution is a
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permanent one. unfortunately in 2006 and prior and in subsequent debt limit extension votes, there was no serious debate attached to it as to a permanent solution. we have to amend the governing document, the law of laws, the only kind of law that can bind future congresses in order to solve this problem. we have to do it now. this is part of what it means to be an american. we as americans crave liberty and we askew tyranny to any degree. every single time we authorize deficit spending, we fuel the unfettered expansion of the federal government and all of its power. we commit ourselves and our posterity to a future that will include working more and more hours and days and weeks and even months just to pay their federal tax bills every single
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year. that's time that they won't get back. that's time that we won't get back. that erodes our individual liberty. it also erodes our liberty when the same regulatory structure that exists today grows bigger and bigger every year because we're borrowing now more than $1.5 trillion every single year. not because of some aberrational condition, some unusual development that requires an unusual expenditure of borrowed money but just to cover our basic day-to-day operations. this is what fuels the perpetual expansion of government. and when government expands perpetually, our individual liberty is diminished severely unfortunately and to a corresponding degree. this is unacceptable. but there is a way home. the way home is found in limiting the role of government and you can limit the role of
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government most effectively at this point in time i believe by limiting the pool of money to which congress has access. the only way to do that is through a constitutional amendment. i want to close by addressing one final argument that's sometimes been used in response to and against the cut, cap and balance act. many of its detractors are making the claim that i find extraordinary, a claim that sa says, why are you even supporting this because it can't pass. it's a little bit like saying why do we even play the super bowl when it's expected that one team is going to beat the other team. you have to play, but this one isn't a game. this one is for real. and when we vote after debating and discussing, members of this body can and will be held accountable to our constituents. so it will be up to me and each of my colleagues in this body to
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decide how to vote on this issue. for those who make the unfortunate decision to vote against this, notwithstanding the fact that 75% of the american people strongly support the idea of a balanced budget amendment, notwithstanding the fact that 66% of americans -- both of these figures according to a cnn poll released today -- support the principles underlying cut, cap and balance. notwithstanding the fact that this is the only permanent way of solving our debt problem. if members of congress and members of this body choose to vote on this legislation, they will do so at their own peril. they will have to face their constituents and explain why a handful of them were unwilling to raise the debt limit, unwilling to address this problem, unwilling to fix the perpetual deficit spending habit
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of congress, simply because they did not want a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. i think that's a tall order. i think that's difficult to explain. i think those who try to make that explanation to their constituents will do so at their own political peril. but more importantly, the vote they cast will be at the peril of the people of the united states of america, of their liberty, of their economic stability and of their ability to prosper now and in the future. we can turn this ship around, but in order to do it, we need robust debate and discussion and our constituents deserve more. the american people deserve more than to have the kind of sleight of hand scheduling and the kind of dismissive, cavalier attitude toward what is being characterized correctly by many as the fight of an entire generation.
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we need to pass the cut, cap and balance act. it's not only the best solution, it's the only solution. time is running out, and i urge each of my colleagues to support this. thank you, mr. president. mr. sessions: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i appreciate the senator from utah. i'm just a bit taken aback by the majority leader's decision to alter the course that i thought we were on that would allow for debate and work on a bill to deal with the budget -- the debt ceiling and our budget deficit tomorrow. some of his comments that he made today after he changed his mind yesterday he said i'm committed to allowing a fair and full debate on this bill. i want the proponents and opponents to have time to air
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their views and so forth. then he says i think this piece of legislation is about as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come before the senate. quote i'm not going to waste the senate's time day after day on this legislation, which i think is an anathema to what our country is about. he goes on to say the american people should understand this is a bad piece of legislation, perhaps the worst legislation in the history of the country. that's what the majority leader said just a few hours ago. let me ask senator lee. he's -- he is newly elected from the state of utah. he has traveled all over the state. did you share with your people at various times in your efforts
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that you thought a constitutional amendment like so many states have to contain spending is good and sound policy? did they hold that against you? or do you think your election was an affirmation of the cry of the american people that we take some action that would actually constrain spending? mr. lee: on countless occasions throughout the state of utah, i have articulated that we shouldn't raise the debt limit without structuring constitutional change in the form of a balanced budget amendment. and the people of utah elected me in part based on that promise. elections have consequences. and in my case, this was one of them. mr. sessions: well, senator lee, i just am flabbergasted by this -- the majority leader's comments. he said -- quote -- "i think this piece of legislation is about as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come up on the senate floor."
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well, wouldn't you say that compared to all the other -- other legislation that we're talking about passing -- and some of it has some teeth to it, i acknowledge, but compared to all of that, a constitutional amendment that requires us to live within our means is certainly not a weak piece of legislation. i would -- mr. lee: i would hardly call it weak. calls for legislation like this date back a couple of hundred years. thomas jefferson was arguably the first one to suggest this kind of proposal. he called for it again and again. those calls have continued throughout most of our history, but they have accelerated in recent decades. they have accelerated because this body has refused to balance its budget and it's abused its borrowing power, to the point
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where we're now spending more than $1.5 trillion a year more than we bring in every single year. it's bankrupting our country. we're burying our children under a mountain of debt. we're killing jobs. we're spending money we don't have, and that's wrong. i would hardly call legislation designed to deal with that in a permanent, binding way senseless. i'm insulted that the majority leader would suggest that this is somehow senseless just because he doesn't like it, because it will make him less powerful. mr. sessions: well, i think that's getting to the nub of the matter. i think it's a sense in which -- now, for a constitutional amendment to pass, it has to have two-thirds vote in the congress, both houses, and 3/4 of the states, but once passed, no majority leader could come in next year and say well, yeah, i know i have been in favor of balanced budgets but i don't want to do it this year. i got more spending i want to
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occur. it would indeed curb the power of the majority leader and some newly constituted senate to spend more money than it takes in, would it not? mr. lee: yes, it would. the whole purpose of a balanced budget amendment is to restrict our power and give that power back to the people where it belongs. the power has been abused here. it has been abused over a prolonged period of time. it's been abused to a severe degree. this is why the election of 2010 brought about some significant outcomes. mr. sessions: i couldn't agree more. i think the american people rightly have concludeed that a congress of the united states that borrows 40% of the amount of money it spends because it's spending more money than it takes in is acting irresponsibly. as i have noted earlier,
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somebody says oh, you know, the tea party is angry. well, why shouldn't they be angry? we have completely mismanaged the american people's business. we're elected to be responsible leaders. nobody, nobody, i believe, would come to the floor of this senate -- i'd like to see if it happens -- and defend what we are doing. borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend, no matter what it's on. and the president proposes budgets next year that would include 10% increase for education, 10% increase for energy, 10% increase for the state department, and we are spending money that we don't have. so i think a constitutional amendment will require a major participation by the american people in all the states of -- and all the states of america
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would discuss it, and if the american people decided that they felt that congress needed to be restrained and pass that constitutional amendment, what's wrong with that? isn't that a legitimate way for the american people to have their voice expressed according to the constitution? mr. lee: there's nothing wrong with it, and quite to the contrary, this is exactly the kind of activity that our constitution contemplates, authorizes, and with good reason. and i should note here that it's significant that in this body, each state is represented equally. a relatively small state like mine, the state of utah, has the same number of senators as a really large heavily populated state like california or like new york, because we represent the states. we represent the states as states. that's one of our jobs is to make sure that their sovereign interests are vindicated in this body. to suggest that we shouldn't balance our budget, to suggest
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that we shouldn't even propose a balanced budget amendment to be considered by the states, keeping in mind that it's the states ultimately that ratify it if 3/4 of them choose to do so is insulting to the very states that we represent. it somehow suggests that our states can't handle it. when the states overwhelmingly, almost every one of them, balance their budgets every year. mr. sessions: well, i agree with that, and it's just odd to me and i think contrary to the heritage of the senate. i'm confident it's contrary to the heritage of the senate for the majority leader to assume as much power as is being assumed now. i am ranking member on the budget committee and essentially the democratic leadership told the budget committee not to even mark up a budget this year even though the statutes of the
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united states in the united states code requires congress to have a budget. i know that the senator is a skilled lawyer. his father was solicitor general of the united states, one of the most prestigious -- the most probably prestigious position a lawyer can have in america, in my opinion. to be able to stand before the united states supreme court and to represent the united states government in court is an honor that's very high. but anyway, so he's a student of the law and i know you're familiar that the statutes of the united states require a budget. it doesn't say that you go to jail if you don't, i will admit, but it says you should have a budget. don't you think the people in utah and i think the people in alabama would think we should have a budget because it's the right thing to do, number one, and number two, we should do it because it's the law. mr. lee: it is the law, and
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notwithstanding the fact that we don't have a court order enjoining us to do that. we still have taken an oath to uphold the constitution. and i think that means that especially on an issue so fundamental, so important, so sweeping as the budgeting process, we should be complying with that law, or at least making an effort to do so. what i see here is not only a lack of effort to comply with that law but a deliberate, conscious effort made with malice aforethought to avoid the law. that's damaging, that's wrong. mr. sessions: and senator lee, the house of representatives passed this bill, passed it by more than a few votes to spare, and sent it here, and i believe if the american people knew what was in it, they would favor it, the people in my state would favor it and i think the
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american people would favor it. how do you think the good people in the house, the good people of america who overwhelmingly favor a restraint in spending and balancing our budget, how do you think they would feel about the leader curtailing our debate on this important subject and saying -- quote -- "i think this piece of legislation is about as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come on this senate floor. i'm not going to waste the senate's time." close quote, on it. mr. lee: i think the american people would be profoundly disappointed by that statement. more importantly, they would be profoundly disgusted by the fact that it wasn't enough for the senate majority leader simply to say i disagree with it or to point out areas in which he might disagree with it or might want to improve upon it.
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he went so far as to say it's not even worth our time to debate and discuss this. that smacks of tyranny. americans don't respond well to tyranny, and this is unacceptable. mr. sessions: i -- i have to say, i think we are having a problem here in the senate. i really consider the majority leader a friend. i know it's a very, very difficult job. i've said that many times. i wouldn't want it. trent lott said it was herding cats or pushing a wheelbarrow with frogs. you put one in and two jump out. it's a tough job, but he asked for it. and the senate is a great institution. i don't know what robert byrd, the late senator from west virginia, would say if he were here. i think i know. i think he'd be very uneasy about the process that we've
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gone through this year when, through the power of the chair, the majority leader on -- has blocked legislation after legislation, has blocked us moving forward with a budget, refusing to allow the committees to move forward, refused to allow the budget even to come up last year. we're now i think 812 days without a budget in the united states senate running the largest deficits the nation has ever run. and those deficits are not transient things. they're not just going to turn around when the economy picks up a little bit. it's a systemic, deep, structural problem and we are endangering our future and we're being blocked from even being able to discuss it while people meet in secret over at the white house with the vice president
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and with the president and a few group of senators meet. nobody elected them but they're good people, they want to meet, that's fine. but we need to be seeing legislation, actual bills that we can take to committee and score and see how much they co cost. senator lee, do you think being a student of american law and the constitution that you are, just -- and knowledgeable about common people, don't you think that the american people think there's something wrong with this process, where we've gone all year long and not done anything of significance to deal with the most significant issue facing our nation maybe in the next decade and that is the size of our debt? mr. lee: absolutely. absolutely. look, the american people understand that power is most dangerous in government when
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it's consolidated into the hands of just a few people. it becomes even more dangerous when that power is wielded under cover of darkness. the great thing about sunlight it illuminates and it disinfects. we need that illumination and that disin effect no disinfectas process because that process is corrupt. in a process tha of such profoud importance to be decided by just a small group of people. who tell their colleagues, you pleabeans, don't worry about it, we'll do it. it's for high-minded people. and we'll do it but you won't have time to read it, to debate it, and to discuss it. this is corrupt and it has to end. mr. sessions: i think what you've said, senator, is sadly too truthful. i do believe this is a corruption of the process.
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i believe it's been happening over a period of time since i've been here. i've seen it happen more and more. both parties have done a lot of this. but i do believe it's reached a new height this year. i think senator reid believes in the senate. i think he respects the senate. i really do. but i think he's under constant pressure and they've decided that some of his members i guess didn't want him to -- didn't want to stay here this weekend. they wanted to go home. they had a speech they wanted to give or a party they wanted to attend to or a fund-raising event they wanted to go to so they don't want to stay here this weekend. just yesterday, i think it was, senator reid was complaining about the house going home this weekend and promising we'd stay here and we'd work. now all of a sudden anybody stays here and wants to vote on a bill that passed by
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substantial majority in the house of representatives he says is acting as -- he says the bill's an anathema to the senate and senseless and not worth our time to talk about. how does he get to decide this? mr. lee: he gets to decide it only if we allow him to decide it. we outnumber him and if we vote contrary to his will, we can overrule him. if enough members of this body are willing to stand up for truth and justice and the american way, debate and discussion and the rule of law, this thing that he's trying to do to us won't happen. we can have actual debate and discussion. now, look, we've -- we've responded, we've responded politely and well to his directive that we would stay here this weekend. we've made plans. we've canceled plans in our home states. and all of a sudden his high and
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mighty speech earlier this week telling us we had to stay here is no longer important when he disagrees with some legislation we put forward. he would rather shut down debate and discussion, he would rather end the process that is absolutely necessary to avert this crisis that is quickly, quickly coming than he would to have to confront the facts, offer up his own solution and respond to the valid points that will be made in this debate and this discussion. mr. sessions: it's an important issue i think, i really do, and i just want to make this point. the house -- there's only one bill that's passed and been advocated, actually that's on the floor of the senate, that raises the debt ceiling and changes our debt course in america and that's the bill the senator from utah has brought up, the cut, cap and balance bill that he's been so articulately describing and advocating.
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that's the only bill. they say that this is senseless. well, do you have anything that raises the debt ceiling and does something about the debt of america? does anybody else in the senate or if they bring it up will they be blocked from bringing it up? i don't see it. the only legislation is this legislation. it's not senseless. it's very significant. when i came to the senate the first year in 1997, we voted on an amendment to balance the budget, a constitutional amendment. we thought the votes were there to pass it, taking all the people that had voted for it and what they said they were going to vote there were enough votes to pass it, it appeared. and at the last moment, several senators changed their vote and it only got 66. had it had 67, it would have gone to the states.
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i'm convinced that balanced budget amendment would have passed. and had it passed, we wouldn't be in the financial crisis we're in today. now, that's fact, i believe. so i don't think this is a senseless process. i believe people, if they don't agree with this legislation, they don't agree with it, let's hear why. but just to come down and trash it, trash the members of the house who voted for it, trash the american people -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sessions: i thank the chair and would ask consent i have one additional minute. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the minute is granted. mr. sessions: just an inquiry. was there a time limit on this? the presiding officer: there was a time limit earlier and it was 5:00 to 8:00 equally divided and now a member of the other side
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is here. all the remaining time has expired on the minority. mr. sessions: i thank the presiding officer for his courtesy and would just say th that, forgive me if i'm a little bit offended. i don't think it's wrong to be offended. the majority leader walks in here and says a piece of legislation that is critical, i know, to the future of america is -- i believe, to the future of america is senseless, not worth discussing, he changes his mind entirely and going to file a motion. i guess he figures he'll have the majority members of his party will stick with him and just kill off the legislation tomorrow morning. and i think it's a very valid piece of legislation, an important piece of legislation. the only piece of legislation in the senate that would raise the debt ceiling. i really think it's worthy of respect, it's worthy of full
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debate and ought not to be demeaned in the way it has. and i respect my friend, the majority leader. i'm sure it's a frustrating job and every now and then you kind of say things maybe you wish you hadn't. but i don't think this is a senseless piece of legislation. i think it's important and worthy of the greatest consideration in the senate and i thank senator lee for his efforts to promote it. i would yield the floor. mr. akaka: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. akaka: mr. president, i rise tonight to discuss the so-called
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cap, cut and balance legislation that has come to us from the house of representatives. congress is a coequal branch of the federal government. i have always believed that it is a forum for informed, bipartisan debate on public policies that we all agree should help us achieve greater equality, opportunity and treatment under the law while nurturing and caring for our young and vulnerable, producing well-paying jobs, and investing in the future. that is why, mr. president, i have established good working relationships with my colleagues in both the senate and the house and on both sides of the aisle. unfortunately, this legislation
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abandons each of these principles. mr. president, the challenge facing congress today is urge no -- isurgent. the stakes are extremely high. congress must raise the debt ceiling to fulfill our commitments and take meaningful steps to reduce our deficits and debt. however, the policies needed to achieve these goals cannot be negotiated at the expense of the safety net that our seniors, children, working class, long-term unemployed and minority communities depend up upon, nor should they come at the cost of good government. the house legislation falls far short of what is needed.
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it makes no pretense to bipartisanship. on the contrary, it's a model of extreme bipartisanship. moreover, it threatens to turn a recession into a depression. it will cut, cap, and kill medicare and it will leave millions of the nation's sick, disabled, poor, long-term unemployed and elderly to bear an unreasonable share of burden of deficit and debt reduction. these are our citizens who are already struggling. meanwhile, the cut, cap, kill bill would protect and defend the tax havens and shelters of
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the wealthiest. the balanced budget amendment portion of this legislation would do even more long-term harm. it would make future periods of economic weakness worse and restrict our ability to respond. even though we all know it is not a part of the regular federal budget, it would use social security revenues and spending as part of the formula to determine whether the federal budget is in balance and, if not, social security would be subjected to the same cuts as other federal spending. we cannot forget that an important reason americans expect us to fix our debt and
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deficit is to preserve, protect their social security and medicare benefits. mr. president, i will continue to work to preserve our nation's social safety net and seek a balance between raising revenues and cutting spending in which all americans contribute to the solution. that said, i will oppose the house bill because it will not do any of those things. this legislation was quickly and poorly considered, leaves the vulnerable exposed to harm and seeks to weaken congress's power to govern. i cannot support it. thank you, mr. president.
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i yield the floor. and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: unanimous consent te
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quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: mr. president, we're in morning business? the presiding officer: we're on the motion and time allotment -- motion to proceed on h.r. 2560 and time allotted to our side. mr. udall: mr. president, i wanted to come to the floor this evening and join a number of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who are concerned about the federal budget and our ever-increasing deficits and debt, but today i'm also speaking on behalf of the 4.5 ml coloradans who are worried that we won't have the discipline to do anything about it. they know that our great nation won't win the global economic race unless we take some responsible action here on the floor of the senate and soon, and i have to say i don't think
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the debate that we have been having here offers them a whole lot of solace. and i say that because instead of getting to work on the bipartisan gang of six deficit reduction plan which draws from the president's bipartisan fiscal commission headed by -- i have to say this -- two true american patriots, former senator alan simpson and north carolinian erskine bowles, instead of getting onto that plan and the substantive proposal it makes, we're debating what looks to be a bumper sticker campaign gimmick called cut, cap and balance. i have a hard time even saying it. but i have got to say i have spent a good deal of time analyzing the budget tools. after all, i was one of the first and one of currently only a few democratic senators who signed onto a balanced budget amendment to our constitution this congress. i have also been fighting for many years for other smart
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budgeting tools including paygo budgeting, a line-item veto and a ban on earmarks which would help reduce waste and rein in federal spending. but let me be clear that cut, cap and balance is not about balancing the federal budget, because when you read the bill, it becomes clear that it's simply about ideology. while the name of the bill seems -- it seems reasonable enough, it's conveniently designed literally to fit on a bumper sticker, but the language of the bill doesn't represent a balanced approach to deficit and debt reduction, and for that reason alone, i can't support it. as i have said, i have supported the idea of a balanced budget amendment even though a number -- maybe i should say most of our caucus, mr. president, has opposed the idea. however, the balanced budget amendment contained in cut, cap and balance is not about balance. it's about locking in, if you really look at it, special
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interest tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, which would then force draconian program cuts that would harm our nation's middle class, not to mention the most vulnerable in our communities all across our country. i've got to say, this isn't a balanced way to pursue deficit reduction. it makes a balanced budget nearly impossible to achieve when you get into the guts of this idea because it ties literally one hand behind our back by preventing the congress from closing wasteful special interest tax breaks. in addition, mr. president, the bill in front of us holds the increase in the debt limit hostage. mr. president, the debt limit needs to be raised by august 2 to avoid a first-ever government default on our debt obligations. cut, cap and balance dictates that the debt limit cannot be increased until congress approves a constitutional balanced budget amendment. now, even if you're the most
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optimistic person in the world, a scenario for passage, ratification and implementation of a balanced budget amendment shows that it's unlikely to take effect for at least ten years, ten years. not ten days, ten years. i have always maintained that a balanced budget amendment to the constitution -- which again i want to mention i support -- should be a backstop put in place only after we have made the tough decisions about reducing our spiraling deficits here and now. if we were to tie our nation's obligations to pay its bills to the passage of a one-sided and partisan balanced budget amendment, that would be bad enough as it is, but cut, cap and balance would also lead to severe, severe cuts in social security and medicare, and it would actually lock in billions of dollars in tax breaks currently in our tax code, which
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benefit the wealthiest citizens as well as big oil and corporations that have spent decades shipping jobs overseas. mr. president, this is such an egregious proposal that i have a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't actually designed to pass the u.s. senate. i believe it was designed to be a campaign gimmick, because it certainly does nothing to address the problems we face right here and now, which is the looming default of our government, the u.s. government. let me be clear, and i think the public has begun to understand this. raising our debt limit is not about future spending or paying for more government. it's about paying our previous bills. business leaders, economists, rating agencies and especially treasury secretary geithner have told us that our credit rating, were we to default, would take years to rebuild and that our country would never be the same if we were to default on our
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debt. mr. president, you know this. you're a businessman. we can't ask for a do-over, a mulligan, if we default on our debt. we can't say oh, we were just kidding. this is truly the real deal. i want to share some of the ways we would be directly affected by a government default. paychecks for soldiers, in afghanistan and iraq and at bases around the world conceivably wouldn't go out. f.a.a. towers could shut down. border crossings could close. operations at the f.b.i. and the c.i.a. would be put at risk. safety inspections of the food that we eat and the cargo that enters our ports could halt. and the resulting spike in interest rates would ironically make our debt even harder to tackle because each 1% rise in interest rates alone would result in $130 billion in increased interest payments on our national debt each year. perhaps, most importantly,
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hard-working american families would also feel the crunch. a spike in interest rates would effectively force a tax on all americans and american businesses due to increased consumer costs. just as important, failure to raise the debt limit would lock up credit markets because the u.s. would no longer be seen as a reliable credit risk. coincidentally, mr. president, yesterday an important consumer protection law which senator lugar and i introduced and passed and you helped us with on the floor here last year went into effect. it provides americans with free access to their credit scores, which is so important to understanding their own credit risk. and fico -- this is some good news in a day that has a few dark clouds hanging over it. fico has estimated that as many as 500 million credit scores will be given to americans for free each year because of this important bipartisan law. working on this legislation, i
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learned a lot about credit scores, what they mean, how they are calculated and how critical they are to economic success. but here is how i am tying this back to our discussion today. it got me wondering what would america's credit score look like if we defaulted on our debt. nearly two-thirds of a credit score is based on an individual's total debt and payment history. so here's how i think our great nation would score if we don't raise the debt limit by august 2. we all know that our debt is spiraling out of control. that is demerit number one. but if we now also are unwilling to agree to pay our debts, demerit number two, we will be left with a credit score of a deadbeat. mr. president, i don't think that's the way we see ourselves or want to see ourselves in the 21st century's global economic race. we want to be at the head of the pack. we want to win that race. but to see ourselves as a dead
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beat, i mean that's not what america represents to me. it's certainly not the way coloradans see us. and the people see this very clearly. they are ahead of us. they understand the risks we face. i want to share a couple of letters that coloradans got into my hands just this last week. sara jane wrote me last week and she was to the point. she said -- "dear senator, i'm furious about the games being played with the debt ceiling. this is really abusive to our country." another coloradan, nicholas, sent me an young people that said -- "dear senator udall, republicans are calling for big cuts to vital programs and refusing to increase revenue. this is lunacy. as a native coloradan, i and most others here work for a living. we don't own yachts, planes or mansions. the thought of republicans gutting the social safety net in
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order to prevent millionaires and billionaires from paying a little extra tax makes me wonder what we really value in this country." i couldn't agree more. we have some tough choices to make, but some members of congress are so lost in their ideological rhetoric that finding an agreement on our deficits and debt seems out of reach. it feels to me -- i really don't want to say this, but it feels to me that some of our colleagues would be perfectly fine with shutting down the federal government out of a belief that it's grown too large. they believe that a catastrophic shock to the system is the only remedy. but i have to say our fiscal imbalances are not caused by the things they keep saying they want to cut. foreign aid, federal salaries and other programs are a tiny percentage of overall spending. in fact, appropriations chairman
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inouye, the dean of the senate, president pro tempore of the senate, noted last week that -- quote -- "in constant dollars adjusted for population growth, nondefense discretionary spending is at the same level in fiscal year 2011 as it was in fiscal year 2001 when the federal government ran a a $128 billion surplus." the fact is that our fiscal imbalances are caused by three historical irregularities -- record low revenues and, an increasingly aging population and heightened security needs in the wake of september 11. they each demand thoughtful and balanced solutions and only a bipartisan deal will get us those balanced solutions.
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now, i just have to say no matter how much bloated rhetoric we hear, there is one simple fact, and that is we're all in this together, but it seems like to me often and unfortunately like we're in the same canoe, paddling furiously upstream away from the water fall behind us off our stern, but half our crew has thrown their paddles overboard in protest. i just don't get it. i don't understand it. and what's so agonizing is that we have a bipartisan solution right in front of us. and as i mentioned in the beginning of my remarks, mr. president, i was thrilled to see the gang of six this week report a responsible, balanced and very bipartisan agreement. now, i don't agree with every aspect of it. i do believe, however, that the plan would responsibly reduce our debt and protect our middle class while also allowing our
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economy -- not just allowing but insenting our economy to grow. and this plan has already received bipartisan support, not just here but across the country. it's my feeling rather than arguing, we ought to be acting on these recommendations. many of us just want to get to work. it's hot. we take our jackets off, roll up our sleeves. and i know there are members on both sides of the aisle who share that sentiment, even if others here are demanding that they remain quiet about it. there's no question that the fiscal challenges in front of us demand a bipartisan solution, but the clock's running. the sand is rapidly running out of the hourglass and we have to get to work on making the necessary changes to get our fiscal house and its foundation in order. frankly, some issues, some issues should rise above partisanship and politics and
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campaigns and our country's economic and national security -- by the way, the two are linked. secretary gates and admiral mullen, i serve on the armed services committee, they made it very clear that they see the debt as a very threat to our country. a broke country is a weak country. so our economic situation falls in a category that i think ought to be above politics and partisanship. cut, cap and balance is wrong for our country. it represents more divisiveness, way too much gamesmanship and more politicking. let's listen to our constituen constituents. i shared letters from two of them from my state of colorado who are pleading with us to get to work and focus our attention on the the sensible bipartisan gang of six plan. let's combine it with a debt limit increase to ward off default and work together and pass it into our laws prosecute
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our national credit rating is downgraded and it damages our chances of winning the global economic race. that's what coloradans are expecting of me and that's what i expect of the hundred of us who are so fortunate to serve in the united states senate. i'm not being dramatic. i'm not a particularly dramatic individual but i have to tell the presiding officer and my colleagues that i think nothing less than the fate of the u.s. economy hangs in the balance. and i'm willing to stay here day and night, weekends, holidays to help put a long-term, balanced and bipartisan plan in motion. mr. president, thank you for your attention, thank you for your interest. i yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you very much, mr. president. i want to say a few words about
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the debt ceiling that is rapidly approaching, but on this particular day i can't come to the floor and speak about anything without just making one i guess i'd say note of personal privilege and that is that today is a particularly sad day in my home state of rhode island because one of the great rhode islanders -- well, one of the great rhode islanders has passed away, former governor bruce sundlin, who i worked for for many years and formed a very devoted affection for, has decide peacefully at home with his family after one of the most accomplished and eventful lives in rhode island history.
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i know that my senior senator, jack reed, and i will be back on the floor at a later time to give governor bruce sundlin his proper due and recognition, but for all that he has meant to me, for all he has meant to our state of rhode island, for all that he's meant to the people whose lives have been made so much better or who've been protected from very bad outcomes by his courage and by his determination, i simply could not overlook that at this point. more will follow on my dear friend, bruce sundlin. so to the matter at hand, less than two weeks from now, our nation is going to hit its statutory borrowing limit and it may begin for the first time in its history defaulting on its obligations.
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unless we act very soon, the treasury of the united states of america, long the issuer of the safest and the most conservative securities in the world, will simply run out of money. social security checks, as the president has already said, would be at risk. millions of american families would suddenly lose their household income. the treasury would have to suddenly stop paying more than $4 out of every $10 federal dollars, choking off all the economic activity supported by those funds. and private-sector projects across the country that depend on federal dollars or federal permits or federal regulatory approvals, all would grind to a halt. catastrophic triple whammy on
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our economic activity. in addition, an increase in interest rates would likely freeze investments and cause the financial markets to collapse. so reaching the debt limit won't just put us back into recession, it would risk economic calamity. with the stakes so high and with time so short, it is unfortunate that the house republicans, who created this completely unnecessary crisis, have sent us this so-called cut, cap and balance bill. this bill, which cuts no tax loopholes -- not one -- and puts no cap on corporations offshoring jobs or earnings and dodging u.s. taxes, what do one
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thing: it would kill medicare. consistent with the republican 2012 budget, this bill puts the cost of deficit reduction right down on those who can least afford it: senior citizens, the disabled, and our children. the cut, cap and kill medicare plan the house republicans have proposed would begin with steep cuts to federal programs in 2012 while we're still in this recession, slashing domestic spending by over $111 billion and eliminating 700,000 jobs from our economy when we need them the most. it would also require immediate
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cuts to social safety net programs, likely reducing or eliminating even student loans, pell grants, school lunches, medicaid, and food stamps, some of the most important programs to families who are struggling to get back on their feet during this prolonged period of high unemployment. this is simply unacceptable. the second part of the cut, cap and kill medicare bill would limit federal spending beyond 2012 to levels significantly lower than during the reagan presidency. in fact, our nation hasn't seen spending at those low levels since 1966. 1966 was a time when only 9.2%
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of the population was retired and drawing benefits compared with 12.9% today. so the effects of those spending levels would be even harsher. the cap on medicare and social security makes no adjustment for the $2.5 trillion of social security reserves that americans paid into that system, that the government then went and borrowed, makes no adjustment for that being their money, or for the aging population that we're experiencing. so with a fixed cap and baby boomers retiring in greater numbers, the republican plan forces devastating cuts to social security and medicare
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benefits. there is simply no other way. it would address our deficit in the worst way possible, by taking an ax to the retirement programs on which tens of millions of retired americans rely and on which most every working person in america looks forward to. for ordinary americans, this approach is wrong. frankly, it's unthinkable, although it is the goal of a few determined extremists who are driving things within the house republican party. finally, the cut, cap and kill medicare bill would hold the debt limit hostage to an extremist constitutional amendment that has been widely
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criticized even by many responsible voices on the right. if this dangerous constitutional amendment were to pass, congress, the congress of the united states, would be unable to respond to an economic or national security emergency without steep supermajority votes, giving even more leverage to small extremist factions in congress, as if it's not clear that that's already not too much of a problem. just as dangerous, this constitutional amendment -- this is hard to believe -- this constitutional amendment would make it easier to cut medicare and social security benefits than to take away tax subsidies from big oil, from offshoring corporations, and from billionaires.
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they would make it easier as a matter of law to cut social security and medicare benefits than it would be to go after the special interest corporate tax loopholes and the gimmicks that allow billionaires to pay lower tax rates than truck drivers in this country. it builds a constitutional preference for corporate and special interest loopholes into our constitution, a constitution renowned around the world for its commitment to equality. into this great document that has shown the light of equality around the world we would build a preference for corporate special interests overworking people and the retirement that they count on.
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constitutional amendments traditionally have moved this country forward. this would be a colossal step back. in summary, adding all these different features of the cut, cap and kill medicare bill together, the republicans in the house would require such severe spending cuts that the only way to achieve them, the only way to achieve them would be to, in fact, get rid of medicare as we know it and slash social security benefits for seniors. it would hurt those who depend on government the most while giving special protection to special interests in corporations with tax loopholes and subsidies that permit them to pay lower tax rates than middle-class families, in some cases with some of our most

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